Helms School of Government
Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)
Jared A. Linebach
caregiver, incarcerated mother, children, recidivism, reentry
Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration
Ford, Jodi Simmons, "Incarcerated Mothers and their Children's Caregivers: How their Relationship Impacts the Mother-Child Relationship" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3884.
Mass incarceration has impacted much of the population in the United States over the last several decades. One of the most significantly impacted groups is women. Over half of incarcerated women are mothers. Mothers are typically the primary caregiver of their children at the time of their incarceration, and most want to maintain a relationship and have contact with their children throughout their incarceration. However, the children’s caregiver controls their relationship and contact with their incarcerated mother. The primary purpose of this research was to examine how the incarcerated mother’s relationship with her children’s caregiver impacts her relationship with her children. This study followed a quantitative design, using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The main findings suggest that an incarcerated mother’s relationship with her children’s caregiver impacts her relationship with her children, and the kinship of the caregiver impacts the amount of contact the mother has with her children. However, the mother’s relationship with the caregiver does not necessarily impact the amount of contact she has with the children. Understanding the caregiver's impact on the mother–child relationship can allow incarcerated mothers to work toward fostering positive, productive relationships with their children’s caregivers. This understanding can also help correctional agencies encourage the mother to foster positive relationships with her children and their caregivers, ensuring that she has a successful incarceration and a more successful return to society.